Privacy Commissioner says government should consider user privacy before Bill C-11 finalized

Concerns exist regarding how the Online Streaming Act will impact user-generated content

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner said the committee responsible for Bill C-11 could consider an amendment to the Broadcasting Act that will see personal privacy protected.

The change will allow privacy to be considered fully before the bill is implemented, Philippe Dufresne told the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications.

Bill C-11, also known as the Online Streaming Act, focuses on having the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulate online audio-visual content. While the CRTC regulates radio and television, the same doesn’t apply to streaming platforms that share content in Canada, including Netflix and YouTube. Once approved, these platforms will need to promote Canadian content.

The bill has faced intense pushback from many. One area of contention is how the bill would impact user-generated content and subject many independent creators to the CRTC’s directives.

While Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez stated the bill won’t impact user-generated content, that has not cleared up any confusion on the matter.

The bill states the CRTC will consider three areas when regulating content. The first is if the content, directly or indirectly, generates revenue. The second is if parts of the program have been broadcasted through traditional means, such as radio or TV. The third is if the content is given a unique identifier under any international standards system.

CRTC chair Ian Scott also previously stated that its regulation of user-generated content is within the scope of the legislation. 

When asked about privacy consequences under user-generated content, Dufresne said it’s possible the algorithms will use personal information. “It’s going to be important in how the CRTC exercises these powers that these privacy considerations be taken before these orders are made.”

Image credit: Senate of Canada/ Screenshot

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